A dog bite is a traumatic experience, especially if you’re attacked on the street by a stray dog. Out of nowhere, an animal attacks you and leaves you scared and bleeding.
After you get medical attention for your bite, you’ll be wondering how to hold the right person responsible for what happened to you. This is a good news/bad news situation. While California has strict dog bite rules, things are more difficult with stray dogs.
California’s Strict Liability for Dog Bites
Here in California, we have strict liability for dog bites, which means an owner can be held responsible for dog bite injuries whether they were present at the scene of the bite or not. A victim doesn’t have to prove that the dog had any history of biting or aggressiveness. One bite is enough.
There are, however, certain defenses to a dog bite claim that often hold up in court. An owner might not be held responsible for their dog’s bite if:
- The victim was teasing or provoking the dog.
- The victim was trespassing on the dog owner’s property.
- The victim works in an industry where they take on the risk of dog bites, like veterinary medicine or dog grooming.
- The dog was biting to protect someone in a legitimate self-defense situation.
These rules assume that the dog’s owner can be easily identified. What if it’s not so easy? As a bite victim, you could endure a series of three painful rabies shots because it’s unknown whether the dog was rabid.
What if Nobody Wants to Claim Dog Ownership?
In the case of a stray dog, the victim’s ability to recover injury compensation often hinges on whether an owner can be located and held responsible. The police and/or animal control will usually attempt to track down the owner through government records and witness interviews.
You can help this process along by taking note of your surroundings and capturing the scene of the bite in photos and videos. Record the cross-streets where it happened, the address numbers on nearby houses, and where you saw the dog flee after the attack.
You might get lucky when a nearby neighbor identifies the house where the dog typically eats or sleeps. Still, the person in question might try to avoid responsibility by saying something like, “It’s just a stray dog I feed from time to time.”
This may or may not let them off the hook. In many California jurisdictions, feeding or caring for a dog implies ownership. For example, someone who frequently dumps a big bag of dog food out in an alleyway for a group of stray dogs might be held responsible when one of the dogs attacks someone.
Your Most Important Action After a Stray Dog Bite
After a dog bite in the street, seek medical attention immediately and save your medical bills. Work with the police and animal control to start a paper trail about the incident.
Next, contact a California dog bite lawyer who has experience handling stray dog attacks. A good lawyer knows how to overcome the common obstacles to assigning dog bite liability in street dog cases. They can pore over animal control records, request surveillance videos from nearby businesses, and interview people from the neighborhood who can testify to the behavior of the stray dog.
You might be surprised by how many investigative techniques a talented lawyer can use to track down the dog’s true owner. Let’s put the responsibility where it belongs and pursue the compensation you deserve for a stray dog attack.
We Handle Your Accident Claim So You Can Focus on Your Life
After your accident, contact the attorney team at Sally Morin Personal Injury Lawyers. We handle many areas of the law, including dog bites. We believe you should be able to focus on recovering while we handle the legal details. Call 877-380-8852 today for a free case evaluation.